3d printed gunpowder propellant
Courtesy Xi’an Modern Chemistry Research Institute and 3dprintingindustry.com
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By Ivan the Troll

Chinese researchers from the Xi’an Modern Chemistry Research Institute have found a technique that couples high explosives with SLA (resin) 3D printing to accelerate a projectile to considerable velocities…as high as 1043 m/s. This is the first instance I am aware of where 3D printing has been used to process a stand-in for propellant in a firearm-related application.

In the research paper released by the Institute (reported by 3dprintingindustry.com), they explain how they used filler resin, RDX (a high explosive), as well as a plasticizer that would give the printed parts more suitable mechanical properties. This plasticizer itself is also considered an energetic material, meaning it would explode/combust with the RDX.

Their projectile was a 200g ball (30mm bore diameter)…that’s nearly 3100 grains. At 1043 m/s (roughly 3400 fps), that’s about five times more muzzle energy than a .50 BMG round.

China 3d printed gunpowder ammunition propellant
Courtesy Xi’an Modern Chemistry Research Institute and 3dprintingindustry.com

The most interesting thing about this test is that the Institute was able to harness a high explosive in place of a more conventional propellant (such as smokeless gunpowder). Unfortunately, their use of RDX means this isn’t some breakthrough in DIY firearms – I can’t think of many instances where you would be able to obtain RDX, but not gunpowder.

The level of muzzle energy demonstrated here is something beyond small arms, more relevant to artillery and armored fighting vehicles, at least as this point in the testing. Demonstrations of the process on a smaller scale would be interesting to see, though I imagine nobody is itching to put an RDX-powered rifle in their shoulder anytime soon.

This process has applications in future weapons system for large-scale/military applications. The advantage of being able to 3D-print the explosive/propellant cores allows the design to be custom tailored for fluid flow and ideal burn rates. This can allow for more consistency, one cartridge to the next (potential XLR or indirect fire application), and more power per case area (think +p+ artillery shells).

For more information, the research paper by the Institute is available here.


 Ivan the Troll is the head of PR for Deterrence Dispensed.

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    • Who the hell do you think the chicoms stole it from? Hasn’t been an original idea out of China since toilet paper (other than various diseases).

        • Typical brain dead liberal. Always thinking they’re right without doing any research or investigating.
          Instead just running to see what CNN says about it. You guys literally believe anything you see on TV or read on the internet when it comes from liberal “news” sources. Hate to tell you this but those “facts” that they spout are merely opinions about facts which is not the same thing. China has been stealing and destroying American owned businesses for years. We as a country have been building China and sending our jobs to them. While you people are worried about racism you in turn are ignoring very real problems. Racism in America is basically non-existent except for your hatred of white people. However China has been building up their war chest and getting ready to strike. They don’t view us as human beings we are less than thqem. They want their grand glorious empire which has been the dream of China for centuries! Wake up and smell the coffee. Take the red pill. Whatever euphemism you want to use for this is your choice but first thing is you should stop reading or listening to large corporate news rooms!! What you should do is start listening to Independent News sources. Such as The epoch times, Breitbart, and one America News. I know you won’t take advice from anybody that’s not a talking face on TV so I’m probably wasting my time but we relish any chance to awake you sheep to what’s real.

      • Contrary to popular believe the U.S.A. does not have a monopoly on inventing stuff.
        It’s not appearing much in the news but Trump might have bitten off more than he can chew.
        It seems the Chinese company Huawei possess the most next-generation 5G patents.
        They hold 56,492 active patents on telecommunications, networking and other high-tech inventions worldwide And numerous patents here in the U.S.
        And are starting to gear up to use them to smack down Verizon and other U.S. companies who are violating their patents. Verizon is claiming most of Huawei’s patents are for old outdated or minor tech.
        Trump probably can have the U.S. patent office invalidate them here.
        Only problem then will be Huawei can get U.S. tech violating their patents banned worldwide.
        Verizon and other U.S. companies claims will be subject to not as friendly eyes and Huawei patents probably are valid, or will be seen as valid.
        So we might no longer be able to sell most of our telecommunications equipment outside the U.S.
        Which would tank quite a few companies.
        It doesn’t matter if Huawei collapses , the State will just pick up the pieces and use them as a club against us.
        And no I am not Pro China, just noticed what is slowly happening.

        Remember Lenin’s saying ‘The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.’ ?

        • We are already building 6G, the 5g network is just the frame for it. These chicom tech companies are counterintelligence nightmare for the US, that is why POTUS banned them and convinced our Five eyes partners to do the same as it would put their Five eyes status at jeopardy if they used them as they are a great national security risk. But, keep talking about stuff you have no clue about. I got it you want to claim orange man bad so you can feel righteous. How about when you do not know what you are talking about you shut the hell up.

          • “How about when you do not know what you are talking about you shut the hell up.”

            If everyone did that the internet would be a desolately quiet place.

        • Well J Smith, when you you going to patent that read between the lines device looking for Anti Trump stuff you used on my post? Like I said their patents will be looked at by eyes who may not be friendly to the U.S.
          Perhaps you should drop infowars for awhile and look around.

        • Trump is a moron, but it would take an even bigger fool to use Chinese tech for anything remotely sensitive.

          Their companies are completely intertwined with their government, and their government will use any sleazy tactic or dirty trick it takes to get ahead. Any tech from China is suspect for collecting intelligence on its user or having embedded malware. After the fall of the Soviet Union, they are the closest thing to evil you will find in the modern world.

        • I do not agree that Trump is a moron Name Name, but I do agree that we Americans are fools for allowing so much Chinese and other counties not friendly to the U.S. manufactured devices and electronics into our lives. From the laptops we use to our cellphones to the humble smart lightbulbs almost everything we use is a blackbox since it is difficult to tell what other capabilities might be in them. No need to sneak the capabilities into the microprocessors or CPU’s the Trojan device could be almost any chip or even disguised as a passive device.
          So I agree with the President that we need to bring all electronics and computer manufacturing back into the U.S or countries friendly to us like Canada.
          It looks like the Chinese redid Lenin’s saying into “The Americans will buy from us the rope we use to hang them.”

        • China does not honor anyone’s copyrights, patents, or other intellectual properties, why would anybody honor theirs?

    • In most cases if china has it ….they stole the “new” tech from a US lab they are spying on

      The chinese PLA has more agents/spys in california alone than the FBI has agents US wide…then add more they call “students” going to college

  1. And now for a lighter note: SCOTUS Ginsberg’s cancer has returned. She is probably on her way out. Hopefully Trump will be around to submit another Judge.

    • Umm, not. She had a stent in her gallbladder that got blocked, was treated endoscopically to clear it, and was sent home on Tuesday.

        • Source I read this a.m. (BBC) said she’s responding well to chemo, more’s the pity.

          On topic:

          Cool invention, but it’s not as though this gonna trickle down to us mere peon’s, because RDX. Still, much <3 Ivan.

    • You are a rude pos. FYI the past three supreme court decisions of a plural conservative court went againts your Ubermoron and his xtian mob. You obviously had enough edumatation when homeschooled to know that the SC rules supreme. The reps sided with Ginsburg against inhuman and rude people like you. That should tell you a little bit about yourself. Only a little bit – because thats all you are. As for China. They do what we do. Yet we do everything wrong 10x and then do the same thing again. You are the product. Otherwise we steal a lot of stuff and damage their research abilities. As for me – time to replace the population in the brain drainded aera you live with chinese and muslim immigrants with an average IQ of 120 instead of the IQ82. Its the patriotic thing to do.

      • There seem to be alot of ChiCom lovers out tonight. Beijing must be amping up their online trolls.

      • At least it is honest about its goals: Replacement of domestic population with Chinese communists and muslim head cutters. I somehow doubt they will measure the IQ of either ones though.
        Just wait how surprised it will be when these highly intelligent followers of prophet start tossing LGBTQXYZ off roofs in accordance with the sharia.

      • I love how you, Oli, talk about the patriotic thing to do while spouting very Un-American ideas. Honestly Hitler would love the way you talk. I bet dollars to donuts that you would fail an IQ test. You and basically every other liberal are the ones that need serious help mentally speaking. You people are more prone to paranoia, mental illness, using feelings instead of facts, thinking only white people can be racist, supporting fascism or communism, think every liberal news source is infallible but every conservative news source is a lie, hate Trump for absolutely no reason other than he beat Queen Hillary, and support Joe Biden a known pedophile that gropes and sniffs children. You people need some serious help. You may think we need to be removed but in all reality it’s you that need re-education. You would probably have Facebook and Google in charge of reeducation which is like giving an evil villain a nuclear bomb. Google does not care about your well-being and neither does Facebook. In fact they both are pretty much the same as you… a villain.

  2. Code is free speech. But the “gun community” has a very poor record of supporting new 21st century firearms technology.

    • Only because the dems try to latch onto any new tech that promises some level of control to use as a way to ban current firearms tech. I couldn’t care less about “smart” guns. I won’t buy them, but others feel free.

  3. Cool😎…the Chinamen DID invent gunpowder so we’re told. One wonders what other tech they’ve stol er procured?

  4. I think they will have to rethink what kind of barrel to shoot it out of, may blow up or just tear the Hell out of the rifling.

  5. I for one would be reluctant to use RDX explosive based “propellant.”. Explosives such as RDX are profoundly different than normal firearms and artillery propellants because the pressure exponent for the linear deflagration rate is greater than one. They are analogous to Black powder. As a result, there is no inherent equilibrium pressure dictated by the projectile mass and the surface area of the propellant grains.

    This 3D printing technology might make it possible to shape the explosive grains with enough precision that the pressure curve is predictable. However; I would be reluctant to bet my life on it. It would be far safer to apply this technology to conventional propellants. Since the energy density is about the same, there is no good reason to risk using explosives.

    • This.

      Thank you for pointing this out. There’s a huge difference between an explosive and a propellant. And if someone didn’t know before they pulled the trigger, they might afterwards,

      • This is nothing new anyways. Modern smokeless ‘powder’ is manufactured by extruding it through a die and sliced off by length. That’s ‘3-D Printing’. This clip shows the ‘die’ at about 10 seconds in :

        (The pic for the clip below are the bottle caps for packaging)

  6. Sheesh, the wear and tear on a barrel would be something else. Anything rifled would get worn out pretty quickly, smoothbore applications would be better. Sure would like to see the data on pressures.

  7. The most important point to take from this story is that in some fashion the communists achieved this due to their skill at espionage against western nation military, industrial and university facilities. The level of espionage is intense, never stopping and employees many techniques. From a routine of collecting every scrap of openly published data to human and cyber covert theft of information.

    The Chinese Communists are our enemy. Not the common person but their government, their Party Members, their leaders, their military and their industrial base are all acting as enemies to Western Democracy, Western Capitalism and also acting against neighboring nations.

  8. I would like to see this done with the shell as the propellent with a primer built into it. Or a brass/aluminum base with shell casing just propellent. Saves weight, brass, and the polar bears.

    • “I would like to see this done with the shell as the propellent with a primer built into it.”

      Google “Caseless Ammunition”…

      • A few decades back the US was working on a cannon for fighter aircraft which would use caseless ammo. Did anything ever come of that? Seems like F-15, -16, A-10, etc all used normal ammo, unless I missed something.

  9. In my limited knowledge of 3D printing techniques, what you get is either: one-off custom parts, rapid prototyping, or electronic distribution of the plans. In the case of 30mm cannon propellant, it doesn’t sound like any of these would be a practical benefit, so what does this development mean?

    Is it some kind of novel shape or material that you can’t work with in more conventional manufacturing techniques? I don’t really understand.

    • Shape of gunpowder controls the burn rate and thus the pressure curve and that’s important on propellant design. If it’s consistent and repeatable, it’s limits can be learned.

      • That’s how it’s done already. This is nothing new. In the video above they show the die, it’s a ‘T’ shape that is extruded…

    • I believe it’s still in stage of research, where 3D can help with finding the right size and distribution of explosive kernels in the filler.

  10. At some point, someone will invent something that will immediately render all firearms useless. That will be interesting.

  11. RDX is a high order explosive. What I want to know is how reliably something like that can be modulated down to a point where it has a comprehensible burn rate? Detonation is never a friendly event.

  12. The other interesting thing about this tech, on the future small arms side, is it would allow you to design a caseless cartridge that could have various internal shapes/chambers to burn the propellant a specific way and at a specific rate to have the desired ballistics for a given projectile. I think this is what caseless ammunition has been waiting for to truly make it viable and practical, on any scale.

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